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Debate: Global governance

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Is global governance desirable and possible?

Background and context

Global governance is the political interaction of transnational actors aimed at solving problems that affect more than one state or region when there is no power of enforcing compliance.

Traditionally, governance has been associated with "governing," or with political authority, institutions, and, ultimately, control. Governance in this particular sense denotes formal political institutions that aim to coordinate and control interdependent social relations and that have the ability to enforce decisions. However, authors like James Rosenau [1] have also used "governance" to denote the regulation of interdependent relations in the absence of overarching political authority, such as in the international system. Some now speak of the development of 'global public policy'.[2]

Adil Najam, a scholar of the subject at Boston University and now at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy has defined global governance simply as "the management of global processes in the absence of global government."[3] Thomas G. Weiss, director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center (CUNY) and editor (2000-5) of the journal Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, defines "global governance" as "collective efforts to identify, understand, or address worldwide problems that go beyond the capacity of individual states to solve."[4]

"Global governance" is not a normative term denoting good or bad practice. It is a descriptive term, referring to concrete cooperative problem-solving arrangements. They may be formal, taking the shape of laws or formally constituted institutions to manage collective affairs by a variety of actors (such as state authorities, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector entities, other civil society actors, and individuals). But these may also be informal (as in the case of practices or guidelines) or temporary units (as in the case of coalitions).

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Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace, Jean Jacques Rousseau's A Lasting Peace Through the Federation of Europe, H.G. Wells's A Modern Utopia, Emery Reves's The Anatomy of Peace, Vernon Nash's The World Must Be Governed, Wendell Willkie's One World, Bertrand Russell's Toward World Government, G.A. Borgese's Foundations of the World Republic, Mortimer Adler's How to Think About War and Peace, and Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn's World Peace Through World Law.


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